7 things you need to know in college football
Here are the seven things you need to know in college football this week:
1. Derrick Henry impresses, but it’s not enough to overtake Leonard Fournette in the Heisman race.
Derrick Henry (+11.8) was outstanding in Alabama’s win over LSU on Saturday night, rushing for 210 yards and forcing seven missed tackles on the ground. Meanwhile, LSU’s star man, Leonard Fournette (+30.5) was held in check like few would have predicted, holding him to just 31 yards from 19 carries. That being said, I don’t think that the big game from Henry, and Fournette’s quietest game all year, should make the Alabama running back suddenly the Heisman favorite. Henry has been up and down per our grades, with the games against Wisconsin, Texas A&M and LSU the only true dominant showings. Sure, this does make Fournette seem much more human, but on the balance of the season he’s still been the most dominant player, though he does have several player clipping at his heals.
2. Christian McCaffrey, however, continues to state his case.
While Fournette, in my opinion anyway, is still the best player in college football, Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey (+29.0) continues to make a very strong case for himself. He now has 1,532 yards from scrimmage this year, rushing for over 100 yards in each of the past seven games. He continues to make big plays, but his impact isn’t just felt on offense. McCaffrey has also racked up 605 yards on kick returns, on his way to a best in the nation 2,170 all purpose yards. Topping it all off, he also had a touchdown pass against Colorado on Saturday, continuing to add to the many ways he can hurt opponents.
3. Trevone Boykin doesn’t impress as a passer in loss to Oklahoma State.
Two weeks in a row Trevone Boykin (+42.5) really impressed us, particularly as a passer, with big showings in the wins over West Virginia and Iowa State. As the Horned Frogs slumped to their first loss of the year against Oklahoma State, severely denting their college football playoff hopes as they did, our highest graded quarterback struggled. At just +0.5, it was tied for his lowest grade as a passer all year. On passes 20 yards or more downfield, he went just two-for-seven for 57 yards, and struggled even when pressure didn’t get there, with all four interceptions coming on plays with no pressure. The sort of performance that hurt both his Heisman hopes, and TCU’s chances of getting out of the Big 12 with a perfect record, it wasn’t a good night for Boykin.
4. Paxton Lynch struggles as Memphis’ College Football Playoff dream ends.
Boykin was the only highly graded quarterback to struggle on Saturday night, with Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch (+28.1), our 8th highest graded quarterback this year, having his lowest graded game as a passer (-3.0) all season by far. Lynch, who has looked good going downfield throughout the 2015 season, completed just three of the 10 deep passes he attempted, for 121 yards and an interception. He never looked comfortable in a game that few expected the Tigers to slip up in. It means any hope of them making the College Football Playoff has all but gone, particularly with Ole Miss slipping up again too.
5. Jarrett Stidham and Corey Coleman link up to keep Baylor unbeaten.
It wasn’t all bad news for quarterbacks who’ve graded well so far this year, as Baylor’s Jarrett Stidham (+11.1) proved he could do it as a starter too. Coming into the game he’d graded at +6.6 on just 122 snaps, but the concern was that he wouldn’t be able to replicate that as a starter. It may have been just one game, but he impressed enough that the Bears were able to stay unbeaten. It helps when he has a wide receiver like Corey Coleman (+20.5) to throw the ball too, with the 5-10 receiver having another huge game to take his touchdown total on the year to 20. He’s explosive, and can hurt you either by beating you downfield, or by taking a short pass and making you miss before racing to the end zone. With a duo as good as this, they are still a big player in the Big 12 and beyond this year.
6. C.J. Beathard has another big game and Iowa continues to lurk in playoff race.
With a schedule that hasn’t truly tested them yet, the Iowa Hawkeyes continue to be the elephant in the room when it comes to the undefeated teams left in college. Their undefeated in a major conference, but until they beat a big team, they aren’t going to get any respect. That chance will come in the conference championship game, but for now they keep winning. With another big performance against Indiana on Saturday quarterback C.J. Beathard (+11.7) continued his strange up and down season, that has seen him post highs of +4.5, +5.0 and, this week, +6.0 as a passer, but also a -6.0 against Wisconsin. They need him to keep having big games if they want to shock everyone and emerge from the Big 10 as champions.
7. Jourdan Lewis bounces back with huge game for the Michigan Wolverines.
Our highest graded cornerback this year, Michigan’s Jourdan Lewis (+19.0) rebounded from two games which weren’t necessarily bad, but we’re up to the high standard we’d seem from him earlier in the year. Against Michigan State he had a fascinating one on one battle with wide receiver Aaron Burbridge, with Lewis breaking up four passes, and Burbridge still racking up over 100 receiving yards on throws into his coverage. Then, against Minnesota, he was targeted on two key completions in the fourth quarter. Against Rutgers on Saturday he posted a +3.8 grade in coverage, tied for his second highest graded game of the year, giving up just one reception from the eight passes thrown into his coverage.